Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turkey & Pomegranate Salad

Last Year's Post: Brandied Cranberries
Two Years Ago:  Essential Foodie Gifts Under $20

You'll probably have some leftover turkey in the very near future, so I wanted to publish a recipe for a healthy, beautiful and delicious salad to help you get back on track after the Thanksgiving Day.  This recipe is a variation on the wild rice salad I published a few years ago, with less wild rice and more greens plus the addition of pomegranate seeds.

In the pantheon of beautiful fruits, pomegranates are arguably the rock star.  Their beautiful color on the outside is exceeded only by the beautiful little jewel-like seeds, which have incredible health benefits and a great tangy-sweet flavor.

So why don't we eat them more often?  Speaking at least for myself, I've always been intimidated by how to get the seeds out.  Since pomegranates are in season and they feel very festive at the holidays I decided to man up and figure it out.  There are a bunch of videos online (just Google "how to seed a pomegranate") such as an underwater seeding technique or the far more interesting and dramatic whack the heck out of it technique.  For the second video you have to be patient because the guy likes to hear himself talk, but it's worth it.  He's so enthusiastic about whacking the pomegranate with a wooden spoon that I was laughing by the end.  I had to try it even though the underwater technique certainly seemed safer and less likely to result in an injury to one or more fingers.  What's life without a little excitement?  (OK, true confession, I actually recruited The Lawyer for this little experiment.)

You score the pomegranate with a knife, pry it apart, stretch each half a little, then turn it over on your hand and whack it with a wooden spoon all over until all the seeds fall out.  And you know what?  It actually worked!  You've gotta try it out for yourself.  We'll definitely be eating more pomegranates now that we've found this tip.

What I like about this salad is the balance of flavors and textures - slightly bitter greens, creamy feta, chewy wild rice, crunchy nuts, sweet-tart pomegranate seeds, and delicious roast turkey.  You could substitute kale for the spinach or arugula, and could substitute a different type of nut or meat to suit your preference - I think chicken, duck, pork and even leftover roast beef would work just as well.  You could also use goat cheese or blue cheese in place of the feta if you like.  The salad dressing also adds a bright note with fresh orange juice and rind that pair perfectly with the pomegranate seeds.

If you cook the wild rice in advance, the salad comes together in about 20 minutes including the pomegranate whacking.  And how entertaining will it be to recruit your holiday house guests to do the whacking?!  Think of it as having your very own little reality food TV show.  Starring your relatives.  That alone should be worth it.

printable recipe
Turkey & Pomegranate Salad
Serves 4

For the salad:
¾ cup uncooked wild rice
2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups loosely packed spinach, arugula or kale, chopped
The seeds of one pomegranate
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 cup good-quality feta, coarsely crumbled
2 cup shredded cooked turkey

For the vinaigrette:
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh grated orange rind
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
¼ teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Rinse and drain the wild rice.  Bring water or chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the wild rice; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.  Check to determine if grains are swollen and most are split.  If not, check again every 10 minutes until done (typically 55-60 minutes).  Remove from heat, drain, and set aside to cool.  (May be made a day or two in advance.  Keep covered and refrigerated.)

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine, or shake in a jar.  Set aside.

To prepare the salad, decoratively arrange the wild rice, spinach, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, feta and turkey on plates and drizzle with vinaigrette.  Alternately, all ingredients may be tossed with the vinaigrette in a large bowl and then plated.

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